George Szirtes
Madhouse
after Elias Canetti

The point about the madhouse is that it's virile.
The point about the madhouse is that it sticks by its beliefs.
The point about the madhouse is that sanity is bourgeois.
The point about the madhouse is that no one is acting.
The point about the madhouse is that                                                       no one gets in
by simply being nice.
The point about the madhouse is that it liberates the spirit.
The point about the madhouse is that
                                    you can think just what you like there.
The point about the madhouse is that anyone can enter.
There's nothing special about the madhouse,
                                    people come and go all the time.
There's nothing threatening about the madhouse,
                                    we are all of us dying.
There's nothing terminal about the madhouse:
                                    you go along for the ride.
There's nothing sad about the madhouse:
                                    weeping and gnashing of teeth, that's nothing.
There's nothing mad about the madhouse, it is sanity by default.
We are sane by default, we are mad by design,
                                    but the mad are more admirable.
Admirable is the ape, the bulbul,
                                    the mitochondria, the swelling of the larynx,
Admirable the orchid, the garlic, the fire inside the shut book,
Admirable the cry of the tortured,
                                    the lost voice of the nightingale, the laughter
in everything ostensibly sane but tending towards madness
such as sunlight, the slow rain, each pendulous drop, the wide road,
the brimming eye, shadows, picnics, public conveyances, thunder.
Nature is a madness with a method and all the madder for that.
Culture is a madness everyone inherits.
Science is a madness in love with numbers, the perfect amour fou.
Health is a madness that shifts from minute to minute, gesundheit!
Money is madness that fills your pockets
                                    and leaves a silver slugtrail in the garden.
The point about the madhouse is not to describe it.
The point about the madhouse is not to change it.
The point about the madhouse is to live there
to accustom yourself to its immaculate manners
to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever
with the prophet, the poet, the dwarf, the scholar, the fire.
 Water
 Reel
 America
George Szirtes
fot. archiwum autora


Selected Poems, OUP, 1996
The Budapest File, Bloodaxe 2000
English Apocalypse, Bloodaxe 2001
Metro, OUP, 1998
Reel, Bloodaxe, 2004




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